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For almost a year, the Lock & Load from Easton has been the subject of rumor. Now, in May of 2017, we are stoked to see it go live. We now have experience with this BBCOR only bat that comes with the unique feature of swing weight adjustment. Change in swing weight is made possible by adding weighted discs to the end of the bat with a simple screw attachment system. The bat, along with its discs, are approved for play in the NFHS (High School). The bat without the discs is approved for play in the NCAA.
Easton 2017 Lock & Load Review
We have spent several months drooling over the specs and possibilities of the Easton Lock and Load. Our biggest reservation has been the complexity of the process for changing the bat's swing weight. After some use, and a number of conversations with serious players about the bat's effectiveness, we address that and other concerns below.
Lock and Load Recommendations
Leaving aside the adjustable swing weights for a moment, the Lock and Load is a single piece Z-Core bat. Although a slightly different and smaller barrel profile, the bat is made exactly like the Easton Z-Core Speed and XL Series of bats (that we review here). That is, the bat's base is a single piece aluminum with a large sweet spot and a considerable, hot out of the wrapper, barrel.
Why Buy the Lock & Load if the Z-Core Speed is $80 Cheaper?
Several might not see any need for a bat that can be used in different swing weights. But, do note, the Lock & Load gives the ability to adjust your swing weight 300 or 600 MOI points heavier for High School play. That represents about a 5% and 10% increase, respectively.
In other words, the Lock & Load Z-Core is a combination of the Easton Z-Core Speed, XL and a bat somewhere in between. Three swing weight options in one bat. Spending $80 more on the same bat would not be smart. But spending $80 more on a bat that can act like three bats is smart.
How Hard is it to Change Swing Weights?
We have learned that changing weights is not something you will be doing in the on deck circle. In fact, we think it is not even a dugout operation. It takes about 60 seconds when you are good at it---which takes about 2 tries to become at it.
Who Should Buy the Lock & Load?
For starters, the bat is made for BBCOR players who like the stiff feel of a single piece aluminum bat with a big barrel. If you think the Speed Z-Core is likely too light for you, but aren't quite sure, then the Lock & Load would be a perfect fit. Same goes with the Z-Core XL.
Others might not know where they stand in terms of the right swing weight for them. We would argue that most hitters don't experiment with different swing weights enough because their bats have yet to offer that capability. Such a hitter will love the Lock & Load's ability to help them really dial in their preferred swing weight.
Some players might like the idea of using the bat over the course of a couple different years. As they grow and become more proficient hitters, they can increase the bat's strength by adding weight to the end cap.
The BBCOR bat comes in a 31, 32, 33 and 34 inch bat. Each bat comes with the Balanced and XL weights that can be screwed into the end cap. This changes the bat's swing weight and total weight.
Easton Lock & Load Swing Weights
One Piece Construction
In once sentence, the Z-Core Lock & Load is a single piece aluminum bat with a large barrel and the ability to increase the swing weight from an industry low, a middle ground and an industry high swing weight.
Other Comparable Bats
Although it likely goes without saying, no bat in the baseball space has the ability to adjust its swing weight. The Z-Core Lock & Load is built on the chassis of the Z-Core bat line from Easton. If we were therefore forced to find a similar bat, we would go that route.
Outside of the Easton brand, there are several single piece aluminum bats built with a big barrel. None of them, obviously, possess the ability to adjust their swing weight. As one example, we like the Marucci CAT 7 in the single piece aluminum space.
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